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Sentencing – Factors – Medical Care

State v. Lisa L. Payne, 2010AP1995-CR, District 3, 12/20/11

court of appeals decision (not recommended for publication); for Payne: Eric R. Pangburn; case activity

The court, in imposing a sentence to prison confinement term of 13 months, expressly took into effect the possibility that Payne’s medical needs would not “be addressed adequately in a county jail.” Upon postconviction challenge to the sentence, “however, the court clarified that the length of Payne’s sentence was not dependent upon the care that she would receive in either jail or prison,” as follows:

I did not sentence her to prison because I thought that that is the best place that her needs could be met.  I sent her to prison because I thought she should serve approximately one year of time in confinement, be it in the county jail or in prison, and that if she was going to serve that amount of time, her emotional and physical needs could best be met in the setting of the Wisconsin State Prison.

The clarification saves the day:

¶7        Based on this record, we conclude the court properly exercised its sentencing discretion.  Having determined that a year of confinement was necessary to achieve the sentencing objectives identified, the court then determined that confinement in a state prison was more appropriate than confinement in a county jail.  It was in this regard only that the court took into account the limitations of a county jail in meeting Payne’s medical needs.  This was a sensible consideration of Payne’s particular circumstances in the greater context of a sentence designed to satisfy the interests of both the public and the defendant.  It was entirely proper for the court to give Payne’s medical needs the limited consideration they received.

Doesn’t quite explain the somewhat unusual derivation of 1 year 1 month though, does it? Of course, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a confinement sentence of 13 months, it’s just that some explanation might be warranted as to why 12 months couldn’t do the trick – the trial court did, after all, acknowledge that “approximately one year” sufficed; a sentence of 12 months satisfies the prison threshold, § 973.15(1); and, crucially, confinement is supposed to be the minimum amount of confinement needed to advance the sentencing goals, State v. Gallion, 2004 WI 42, ¶23, 270 Wis. 2d 535, 678 N.W.2d 197: why wasn’t 12 rather than 13 months the minimum necessary?

Sentencing discretion generally, discussed ¶¶3-4. (Omitting, curiously, the part about the minimum necessary.)

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